School librarians sometimes hope to avoid censorship problems by sagaciously anticipating what may be objected to, and carefully excluding such materials from their purchase list. This strategy is unlikely to succeed. The variety of materials attacked in school libraries is truly bewildering. An A-B-C book was removed from a school library in Alberta because a parent complained that the reference for the letter N, a nudist eating noodles in Naples, was not appropriate for kindergarten students. Two volumes of an encyclopedia were removed from a rural school because they dealt with human reproduction, which the complainant saw as explicit sex. Bad language—quite often a matter of one or two words in the entire book, and words that are presented in a context of disapproval for their use—is the reason given for attempts to censor many children’s and young adult classics.
Paul Zindel’s novel The Pigman (1968) has been attacked for profanity, although there is no profanity in the book; the characters are shown using such typographical symbols as “ and ” to represent cursing, and this was enough to draw a challenge.
Another traditional reason for complaints has been sex. Two romance novels were declared pornographic by the parent of a Texas high school student. The parent demanded that all romance novels be removed from the library. Other titles attacked for sexual content include many literary classics and many sex education books. Sex education books were removed after complaints that they contained material that dealt with such topics as alien to adolescent experience as masturbation, homosexuality, and premarital sex.
Violence is also a source of concern. Traditional fairy tales require that villains be punished, and realistic young adult novels sometimes record the violent nature of society. Some parents seek to censor such books in order to protect young readers. C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) was criticized by a parent in Howard County, Maryland, for its “graphic violence, mysticism, and gore.”